Monday, May 29, 2017

Wild Sarsaparilla flowers

I was sitting, feet up, sipping coffee, watching the news this morning.  I appreciate holidays.  When I worked for Honeywell in Information Systems, I planned out activities for every holiday except Christmas - easier to make system upgrades, install new software, and make infrastructure changes when we had a big time window and far fewer users.  Seemed those weekends I was either working, on call, or making calls to find out statuses.  Then when I became a milker ... well ... cows have to be milked even on holidays.  So now I can actually relax/have fun/enjoy holidays.  Sure, it's the same stuff I do every day but it just seems more special doing it on a holiday.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Young buck

Storms were due in the afternoon so Indy and I checked all of the bird houses early.  More tree swallow eggs and one nest w/ bluebird eggs.  I again dumped out a sparrow's nest from one house.  (Let them find their own place to nest.)  When we finished the wind was rising so we went out to fly a kite but it was too gusty to successfully get that kite to stay up.  Felt some rain drops and decided it was time to get back inside.  Just in time because the forecasted rainstorm came through.   Time to do a tick check.  I've written about the procedure a couple of times in the blog but I don't know if I've stressed enough not to put the same clothes back on.   Seems I'm always finding ticks later on those same clothes when I put them in the washer.  Means I go through a couple changes of clothes a day - not a problem if it keeps a tick off me.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


 Today is the state's Great Birdathon.  Unlike the Great Backyard Bird Count put on jointly by the Audubon Society and Cornell University every February, this count is done when there are actually birds here in the Northwoods.  For comparison I saw  3 crows during the GBBC in February but I saw lots of species today.

There are other differences between the two bird counts.

The GBBC is held worldwide and this birdathon is only state wide.  The GBBC collects counts of birds, time seen, and environment.  The state wide count just wants to know the species seen on the birdathon day.  Also the GBBC collects no money but the state asks for birders to be "sponsored." Half the money goes to state-wide birding programs and the other half stays in the county for birding activities in that area.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Flowers for Memorial Day

 I had bought flowers and potted them at the beginning of the month.  Even w/ all of my planning and prep only three pots had open flowers.  I need four.  I remembered the  county highway mower had kindly left my bunch of lilacs near the road so last night I went out and cut a bouquet of them.  As I've said before, I am convinced my grandmother's ghost would rise up before me if I were to put plastic flowers on her grave.  (Interesting ... that would make it a wrathful wraith.)  I placed the flowers at the cemetery and then went to pick up Aunt Bev.  The nursing home had a memorial service remembering Aunt June and all of the other residents who had died in the last year.  They used the largest room in the nursing home and even so it was packed.  Afterward I dropped Aunt Bev back off at Aunt Ruth & Uncle Rodney's home and I stopped off to check on all of the flowers I'd placed out earlier.  The local boy scout troop had taken on the task of cleaning all of the tombstones as their community project this year.  I'd been thinking I needed to get the lichen off my grandparents headstones before names became unreadable.  The Boy Scouts thankfully beat me to it.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


 My friend Kris died.  We knew each other for 35 years.  She managed a systems support group at Honeywell when I joined the company.  We not only worked together but often ate lunch together. She let me borrow her young kids one night so I could see the movie "Cinderella" and not look too out of place.  One summer she and I spent weekends white water canoeing rivers within a day's drive.  She retired in 2000 but we were already in a "GNO" (Girls Night Out) group by then so we saw each other multiple times each year. In retirement she became a Master Gardner and became active in Wild Ones (a native plant group).  When I first moved back here, she could point out wild flowers that I didn't even notice.   At GNO get-togethers we'd talk politics, science, books, religion, and solve all of the world's problems.   She'll be missed.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jack in the Pulpit

Coffee and Conversation at the library was mostly about the damage done in our county by the tornadoes a week ago.   One lady had her bright yellow car turned into a convertible by a tree.  Another couple's house was moved - just a little - off it's foundation.  Many trees down and some crop damage (not sure how that happened since most crops are barely out of the ground.)  Fortunately and perhaps miraculously no one died in our county.  The library's Facebook page has a picture of the edge of the library silhouetted against the bulk of the tornado.  Too close for comfort.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

American Copper

The lug nuts on one of my car wheels were hot when I came home on Friday so dropped the car off at the mechanics on Monday.  Donna had the day off and gave me a lift home.  Got a call this afternoon that the car was ready.  Instead of calling around for a ride I decided that it was only about 3 miles into town - I walk that far through the swamps.  I figured I could easily walk a mile in 1/2 hour and it was two hours before the repair shop closed.  I'd hoof it into town.   I was enjoying the trip - can tell you where each lilac bush is located along the road - but when my neighbor Frank Weinert stopped and asked if I'd like a lift into town I took him up on it.   Tonight I think I'll soak in the tub.  Walking on the asphalt road is a bit tougher on my feet than walking along on soft dirt deer paths.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Turkeys were documented in this state in the first accounts of European explorers in the 1600's.  By the 1800's they had been wiped out here by hunting and loss of habitat. Several attempts were made to reintroduce them but they all failed until the late 1970's when turkey flocks were brought in from Missouri.  Those flocks prospered and the next 10 years were spent capturing some of those turkeys and releasing them in other parts of the state.  Estimates are we now have 350,000 turkeys.  Indy let me know  one was visiting the yard this morning.  The bird was concerned about Indy's bark so left soon following one of my pathways.  Once it was well down the path I let Indy out.  Wasn't too worried she would catch the turkey.  They can run up to 25 m/p/h and, of course, these wild turkeys fly.  I let Indy out more to reward her for letting me know of an intruder and to pump up her ego by being able to chase the "threat" away.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Finished checking all the bird nests.  Dumped out a sparrow nest.  Good reason to check them weekly.  I'm sure I wouldn't have the heart to kill baby birds but have no qualms about  wrecking a nest.  The tree swallows have started laying so many of the pairs of houses had little white eggs in them.  I have one house w/ five bluebird eggs in it too.  Hopefully everybody is sitting on their eggs - it was another overcast, rainy, and cold day.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Dodged rain drops as I finished mowing the lawn.  I had enough time to cut some lilac flowers before the rain really started.    Put in hooks to hang up the box kite on the wall w/ the other kites.  Made bread.  Washed a few loads of clothes/bedding/etc.  Baked multiple batches of sand in the oven.  Laid out a plastic covering in the end table insert, taped the edges, poured the baked sand (now dry and bacteria free) in and placed my rock collection back in place.  Used up the last of the cherry jam my sister gave me.  She kinda "regifted" it to me so I don't think she minds that I fed it to the orioles.  They love it as you can see..  I placed the vase of lilacs in my closet where I'd stored a saguaro wood chest (Grandma and Mom were right - cactus does have a funky smell). Can always find something to do around the house on a rainy day.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Doug flying box kite

 Still relatively cold, overcast, and windy today.  Busied myself trying to get the house back in shape.  Took another box of clothes to the rummage sale downtown.   This afternoon I decided not to let the wind go to waste and flew my kites.  The delta wing has had issues w/ it's string so I carefully untangled it as I let it out to it's full extent and then rewound it tightly.
Wind was still pretty strong so decided to give the new box kite it's maiden fly.  Wasn't sure how to get it going but eventually the wind cooperated by lifting it up.  Seemed to be flying well so gave my neighbor a call since he was interested in seeing it and  invited him and his grandson over to fly kites.  About then I realized the box kite has to be monitored closely.  Gusty winds can cause it to turn out of it's aerodynamic attitude and it will start to fall.  A sharp tug on the string is enough to get it  back up.  After we had all flown it for awhile I reeled the box kite back in.   I wasn't sure how well it would take a hard landing but I was able to get it to come in and gently set down upright.  I am so good.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Taking refuge from the wind

Forecast is for clouds/rain/wind for the next few days.  The road into town already has water flowing over the top of it.  No rain this afternoon so Indy and I took off for the swamp to see how it was handling this excess of water.  Surprisingly, for me anyway, the swamp was not having any issues.  Many of it's plants soak up water and others have leaves which impede the flow of water enough so that the water slows and spreads out.  That way an onrush of water doesn't erode deep channels and it can evaporate or be taken up by the spongy swamp floor.  The humidity there made it warm enough that I took off my vest.   Had to put it back on once we climbed out onto firmer ground.  Frost warnings tonight.

Unhappy Tree Swallow

More rain & wind on Wednesday.  I kept the library open past 7 pm closing time since no one could go out in the deluge that was coming down.  When I did get home the garage door wouldn't open so I knew we had lost power.  Found the extra key, got in the house, and called the power company.  W/ the damage from the tornadoes in this area yesterday I was leery of the three hour estimate for power reinstatement. I worked on a cross-word puzzle by a dozen candle's light until I was tired.  Took one candle w/ me to bed and Indy immediately jumped up on top, snuggled close for warmth, and we both fell asleep quickly.  No power this morning when I got up either.  Time to get out my hand cranked flashlight and the weather radio.  The weather radio will work on batteries, solar, or hand cranking.  The flashlight barely worked at all.  Not a problem the radio also has a built in flashlight so I used that until it got light out (pretty sure the sun came up - too overcast to tell).  Called the power company again at 7 for an update.  Our power had gone out because of  lightening strike. They estimated noon before the power would be restored.  Tree swallows don't usually perch on the shepard's hooks but in this morning's wind think this guy was resting there.  The wind was raising his feathers but he wasn't budging - even when I got close to get his pic.  Power company was wrong, thankfully, and within the hour of my morning call I had power.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


After Indy and I took a walk I plopped down on the couch to watch some Judge Judy before the news started.  Everything was preempted by the local meteorologist warning about impending storms.  When I heard that a storm spotter had sighted a tornado I decided I should take precautions.  Brought in the flowers I'd potted for Memorial Day.  The other flower pots could weather the storm but these I didn't want whipped about by the wind.  Then I opened the garage door.  I noticed the emergency vehicle parked at the end of my driveway.  One likes to position itself there during big storms since it's a good vantage spot.   I drove my car into the garage.  It's true that the car is so old that hail damage probably wouldn't reduce it's resale value but it also wouldn't help it.  Then I went to the bathroom.  With this kind of storm there is always the possibility of losing power and therefore running water.  I'm not w/o experience urinating outside but it's certainly not my preferred loo.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Crabapple Blossoms

Got a call tonight from my brother Russell.  He said he had something for me and could he stop by? Yikes!  I've been rearranging things in the closet and drawers and moving furniture around.  The house is a mess (though it's gradually getting better).  "Sure - but the house is torn apart."  "Not a problem" says he, "I can put this on your doorstep if you'd like."  How nice to have an understanding brother!  "Nope, you can come in." I said.  He drove up, went into his trunk, picked out a big bucket,  I still didn't have a clue.  He dropped the bucket in my foyer.  SAND!  When Russell decided to work for a local sand company I'd told him I was looking for frac or near frac sand to display my rocks on.  Thought frac sand would be interesting since it's local and in the news.  W/ everything else to do this time of year, I'd put procuring some on a back burner.  Whoopee - I can finish the rock display.  Of course, it means taking it all apart first. Guess spring cleaning will take just a little longer.